The Bird opened her eyes. Hamlet was approaching her mother, which she suddenly realized was more accurate than saying that Hamlet was approaching Gertrude because her mother was no longer in her Gertrude costume. She was dressed as Save-Anna, wearing the Bride of Frankenstein wig and horn-rimmed glasses from her television commercials, looking ready to inform Hamlet that he could save 10% on all purchases over $100 each Wednesday this month at his local Shop-N-Save.
“Now mother, what’s the matter?” Hamlet did not appear to notice that he was now speaking with Save-Anna.
“Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended,” replied Save-Anna/Gertrude/The Bird’s mother.
The Bird sensed something else was wrong. Their voices, sounded different. Cleaner? Then she realized — she wasn’t hearing them over the auditorium’s loudspeakers.
“What’s the matter now?” The Bird could see the perspiration on Hamlet’s face, that shouldn’t be possible, she was sitting in the back row of the auditorium, with Mr. Jacobs and her friends on the Bark Bay High School fencing team — they had sat there during this dress rehearsal so they could discuss the play without interfering with the performance.
“Have you forgot me?” And as her mother followed Hamlet’s pacing about the stage, her eyes caught her daughter’s, and widened in surprised recognition. She can see me? From so far away —
The Bird looked down. She wasn’t sitting in her auditorium seat, she wasn’t sitting next to Annie. She was in an armchair, on the stage.
“You are the Queen, your husband’s brother’s wife, and, were it not so, you are my mother.” Hamlet rushed past The Bird without even a glance in her direction. She looked back at her mother, who blinked, regaining her composure. “Nay, then I’ll set those to you that can speak.”
Her mother’s head was tilted to her right, projecting her voice toward the audience. The Bird looked in that direction, hoping to locate her friends —
But there was no fourth wall. Or actually, there was — an interior wall. In Queen Gertrude’s chamber. Of Elsinore Castle.